Tag Archives: New York Times

From Nikki Stern’s Vantage Point

Nikki Stern’s quote opened the 9/11/2014 article in the New York Times on the Family Room, “which served for a dozen years as a most private sanctuary from a most public horror.”

“What tower? What floor? That was the way other people saw our loved ones,” said Nikki Stern, whose husband, James E. Potorti, was among those killed on Sept. 11, 2001. “It was adamantly not how we wanted to define our loved ones. The Family Room was the beginning of the storytelling that was controlled by the families.”

I saw Stern at the U.S. 1 writer’s party in August. The author of two books and an in-demand speaker (she  belongs to the speakers bureau of the Center For Inquiry) , she wrote a review of the new 9/11 memorial for U.S. 1 Newspaper. She served on the advisory committee for the museum, and notes,

One thing was clear: while other memorial space designers had the advantage of perspective, we had to supply it. Three years out isn’t much of a vantage point.

I am grateful for the chance to read about the museum from Stern’s vantage point.



“Just like that, Mr. Aubrey fell into reputation’s ditch, and the Christie administration piled dirt atop him. Except — and this is not incidental to our story — Mr. Aubrey did nothing wrong.”

This is an excerpt from Michael Powell’s January 28 column in the New York Times entitled “A Lieutenant Governor, An Artist, and the Portrait of a Smear.”

It was written in response to the January 15 U.S. 1 cover story, Bully Pulpit, written by my colleague, Dan Aubrey. As editor Rich Rein says in his column today, Aubrey wasn’t eager to revisit an unjust lawsuit. “Then Aubrey and I both realized that his story might not connect the dots between Christie and Guadagno, but it would provide another dot that might help paint the full picture of this administration.”

Following that cover story in U.S. 1, economic guru Paul Krugman, a Princeton resident, wrote about it in his blog post ,  pointing out that though print media struggles, print media reporters are important, and that a mere transportation reporter broke the “Bridgegate” story.

Powell credits the Star Ledger with investigating and clearing Aubrey of any evidence of wrong doing. Powell looked further and found — Lo! — Guadagno’s attacks on the New Jersey State Council on the Arts were attacks on herself. “The lieutenant governor and Department of State, it turns out, had control of the Arts Council’s spending all along. Her divisions signed off on every payment.”



Two headlines for the same medical report:

The Associated Press headline: New medical guidelines urge wider use of cholesterol drugs

The New York Times headline: Experts Reshape Treatment Guide for Cholesterol; Change in Statins’ Use; 2 groups see no need to drop to a specific level of LDL.

Marilynn Marchionne, the AP writer, starts out by saying that the edict calls for “twice as many Americans — one-third of all adults — to consider taking cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.” In other words, more use of drugs. In the fourth paragraph, she quotes a doctor saying the emphasis is to treat more appropriately.

Gina Kolata, the Princeton-based New York Times science writer, opens with a blander statement about the new guidelines. In her fourth paragraph, she quotes a doctor saying, “now one in four Americans over 40 will be saying, ‘Should I be taking this anymore?’ ”

The AP seems to emphasize MORE use of the drug, Kolata in the New York Times, by quoting the doctor on the front page “above the fold” seems to emphasize LESS use of the drug.

Why does this matter? Will the NYT reader welcome news of fewer drugs? Is it that the Associated Press reader (and the reader of Yahoo and other websites) will want to take more drugs?

It all goes back to what my father told me, all the time. “Nothing is ever completely true or ever completely false.”

And I’m just glad I’m not a health reporter.

The Pinking of American Board Rooms

klawe DSCF1695

In today’s New York Times, in an article on narrowing the gender gap on corporate boards, the name “Maria Klawe” rang a bell.  Klawe sits on two prestigious boards — Microsoft and Broadcom — and is the president of Harvey Mudd College in California. But she used to be the engineering dean here at Princeton; she got in early on what malcontents called “The Pinking of Princeton University.” Early in her presidential tenure Shirley Tilghman put Klawe in charge of the E-quad.

Klawe didn’t hide the fact that she has a different working style from the male geeks. She brought her knitting to meetings. She doodled and drew during planning sessions. And instead of allowing herself to be memorialized in an oil painting, like the other white male engineering deans at the Friend Center, she painted her own self portrait — in water color (shown above).

She left Princeton for California and now, as a member of the International Women’s Forum, mentors women on the rise. “Too often,” she said in the article, “there’s a feeling that you’ve got one or two women on the board, so you don’t need another.” Whereas there are very few women directors “and there is a lot of room for more.”

There are four engineers in my immediate family, half are women. From the stories they tell, there is plenty of room for more.

Making Music and Money

Just off Alexander Road, escaping most notice, is a prosperous commodities hedge fund, Caxton, founded in 1983. I thought of it when reading “Is Music the Key to Success” in the arts section of the New York Times, yet another tribute to how music lessons seem to promote intelligence. Caxton’s co-founder, Bruce Kovner, was quoted on the importance of music to developing mental acuity.

I’ve never interviewed Kovner, though I have followed the progress of Caxton with eagerness and amazement. Such hedge funds are like a forbidden mystery to me. How do they make so much money so quickly?

His name came up in the pages of U.S. 1 on March 8, 2006, when he donated his valuable music manuscript collection to Juilliard. It was a paparazzi-like opportunity to summarize his biography, excerpted from a book. He had been hired by Helmut Weymar to be a trader at Commodities Corporation but had moved to Manhattan after founding the firm. But U.S. 1 Newspaper doesn’t care where you live, only where the business is located.

The link to the U.S. 1 article is here but, since the story is way down on the page, here is the gist of the Kovner part.

excerpt from U.S. 1:

. . .As a collector of rare books and manuscripts, Kovner named his company after the English printer. It grew from incubator space at Commodities Corp. on Mount Lucas Road to its own quarters on Morgan Lane and Enterprise Drive before moving to Alexander Road.

As told by Jack Schwager in his “Market Wizards” book, Kovner was a harpsichord-playing taxi driver when he began trading commodities in 1977 by borrowing $3,000 on his credit card. He did have a blue collar background, but he also graduated cum laude from Harvard (Class of 1966), pursued a PhD at Harvard, managed political campaigns (thinking he might eventually be a candidate himself), hobnobbed with such celebrities as Henry Kissinger and Pat Moynihan, and served as consultant for various government agencies.

Kovner joined Commodities Corp. in 1977 and settled in Princeton with his wife, Sarah, a craftsperson who made violas; they have three children. He left in 1983 with $7.6 million to found his own company. According to the New York Times the family is living in New York on Fifth Avenue at 94th Street. Forbes magazine says Kovner is worth $2.5 billion, and with $10.8 billion under management last year, Caxton is the seventh largest hedge fund company.

Within three years the manuscripts will have their own climate-controlled room at Juilliard, which hopes to make some of them available on the Internet. Kovner is chairman of the board at Juilliard.

Note that these figures are from 2006. Kovner has relinquished the CEO’s job. I am still waiting for my excuse to interview Kovner.

Ears See It in a New Way: William Klenz

In 1959, Dr. William Klenz required his undergraduate music history students at Duke University to unlock the secrets of baroque music by studying original texts for what led up to it — social dances of the Renaissance, as taught by dance master Thoinot Arbeau  in his Orchesographie.

Tapping dance sources is now a small but recognized niche (NYT, 9-4-13).

I believe Klenz — who never wore a watch because he didn’t want to be the slave of time, and insisted that all of his students sing “A” upon arising in the morning so that they would be in tune with the world — was an unrecognized genius.


Ed Felten: Foil the Online Trackers

How to foil the “trackers,” those who follow you on the web in order to market to your tastes? If you are buying health products, and you don’t want the insurance companies to know about your condition, buy with cash and without a loyalty card, says Ed Felten, the computer science and public affairs professor at Princeton University who just finished a year in DC as chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission.  Felten  was quoted in the New York Times on Thursday in “Ways to Make Your Online Tracks Harder to Follow”

If you don’t want to always pay with cash, preserve your online privacy with this Felten tip: use a different browser (Chrome, Safari, and Firefox) for each of three online activities: email, social networking, and general browsing.

The NYT reporter, Natasha Singer, had a clever “ender.” She quoted Hester Prynne in The Scarlet Letter:  “We must not always talk in the marketplace . . . of what happens in the forest.”


Questioning the Values of the Establishment

Achieve Achieve Achieve? Maybe competing for good grades is not a good enough value, said New York Times columnist David Brooks, speaking to a Princeton University audience last week. He said he was disappointed that university students — whom he famously criticized a decade ago for being overly competitive — still place too much emphasis on achievement. “The language of achievement has overshadowed the language of virtue,” he said.

Many of the same views are held by Roberto Schiraldi, a counselor and therapist who formerly worked at Princeton University. He contrasts the values of elitism, power, wealth and control with the values of cooperation, sharing, support, and service. He questions what Princeton students and residents hold as core values and how these values relate to white privilege and race. 
Schiraldi and Barbara Fox will facilitate a discussion at the monthly session, co-sponsored by Not in Our Town, of Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege, on Monday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library. All are welcome.